Early Life

Working in Occupied Germany



Chester David was born in March 1924 in Lacassine, Louisiana. He was the youngest of one brother and two sisters and lived with his parents on a farm during the Depression [Annotator's Note: The Great Depression, a global economic depression that lasted from 1929 through 1945]. His father lost a significant portion of his wealth in the stock market crash. David worked on the farm and attended school. He was at a friend's house when Pearl Harbor was bombed [Annotator's Note: the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 7 December 1941]. They knew very little of what was happening in the world because of lack of communication. David went to work for PPG Industries as a welder after completing the apprenticeship program. The environment at the factory was very patriotic. Many men enlisted in the military during that time. There was never a doubt that the United States would win the war. Meanwhile, Germany loved Hitler [Annotator's Note: German dictator Adolf Hitler]. Hitler could have been great with that kind of following had he taken a different path. David left PPG to become a machinist union local representative. He never served in the military. As a home front worker, he did what he had to do.


Chester David spent time after the war working as a truck driver in occupied Germany. He hauled firewood into Berlin [Annotator's Note: Berlin, Germany] as part of the Marshall Plan [Annotator's Note: American initiative passed in 1948 for foreign aid to Western Europe]. The German people after the war still showed their feelings by saying Heil Hitler [Annotator's Note: a salute in honor of German dictator Adolf Hitler] instead of hello. David went through concentration camps and saw the conditions the captives lived in. He disliked the Germans after seeing how the Jews and other people were mistreated. The Germans feared the Jews would take over the country. Driving his truck through the various military zones [Annotator's Note: military zones of occupation], David would sometimes trade gasoline for permission to pass through an area. He spent limited time in France and Belgium during this period. It was quite an experience. He was in Paris, France when the war ended. He had been recuperating from a shrapnel wound from a mortar shell prior to that. The shrapnel went through his hip. He went to the hospital the next day after being cared for by Germans. The Army took him to Paris [Annotator's Note: Paris, France] for treatment. After recovering, he returned to hauling firewood for heating the German population.


Chester David returned to the United States after working in Germany following the war. He became a rice farmer. He bought one of the first combines for his rice farming. He could afford it because he was a veteran. He used the equipment all over the area. He went bankrupt when the crops lost their value. He retired in 1989 at 65 years of age. David learned from his experience in Germany to never put your trust in one leader. Everything in Germany was "Heil Hitler" [Annotator's Note: a salute in honor of German dictator Adolf Hitler] instead of "hello" or "goodbye." David saw places where Jews were burned when Hitler tried to get rid of them. David's hope is that no one has to go through that again.

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